Tag Archives: space opera

Review of Medusa Uploaded (The Medusa Cycle #1), by Emily Devenport

I borrowed a copy of Emily Devenport‘s Medusa Uploaded from my local library.

Description from Goodreads:
The Executives control Oichi’s senses, her voice, her life. Until the day they kill her.

An executive clan gives the order to shoot Oichi out of an airlock on suspicion of being an insurgent. A sentient AI, a Medusa unit, rescues Oichi and begins to teach her the truth—the Executives are not who they think they are. Oichi, officially dead and now bonded to the Medusa unit, sees a chance to make a better life for everyone on board.

As she sets things right one assassination at a time, Oichi becomes the very insurgent the Executives feared, and in the process uncovers the shocking truth behind the generation starship that is their home.

I thought that this was basically ok, but it didn’t blow me away. I liked a lot of the characters, I greatly appreciated the diversity and that women played a big role in the revolution (even if they played almost none in the power structure of society), and I thought the whole thing had an interesting premise.

But from the blurb and cover I’d thought Oichi would be an actual worm and I was disappointed to find that was just a particular human slur. Further, since Oichi seemed to be able to tap into all technologies and impersonate anyone, I felt that everything happened far too easily. And that without considering how no one on her team turned out to be duplicitous, everyone she trusted turned out to be trustworthy (even children). How lucky that is.

Lastly, though I know the music played an important role, all the music references got tiresome. I was also skeptical about how they’re all contemporary. How many generations in the future and Bach, Holst, and Louis Armstrong are still the go-to composers? The movies references are all from modern-ish times too. After a while I found the references anachronistic. Surely the Earth that these generation ships departed from (or wherever) had written at least something new that was worth remembering.

Review of Of Treasons Born (The Treasons Cycle #1), by J.L. Doty

I picked up a copy of J.L. Doty‘s Of Treasons Born from the book exchange shelf at a local cafe.

Description from Goodreads:
As a lifer in the Imperial Navy fighting in a war that has lasted for generations, York Ballin’s only hope for an honorable discharge is the grave. But what events led up to his reluctant enlistment? What spawned York’s almost fanatic loyalty to his friends–and his doubts regarding the imperial uniform he once wore with such pride?

York rarely recalls his childhood, which began with a mystery and ended at age eleven when he was given a harsh choice: Join the navy or face certain death on a prison asteroid. The navy has its own code of justice, but a youngster with curiosity and grit is able to rise in the ranks . . . if he’s given a fair shot.

A few rigorous years later, as a newly commissioned ensign, York is assigned to the hunter-killer ship The Fourth Horseman. But when an unexpected foe kills his superior officer and leaves the crew stranded in enemy territory, the young ensign must do whatever he can to save the ship–even if it means he’ll be court-martialed for treason.

This started off fairly well, with an 11-year-old sentenced to life on a mining asteroid for a crime he was coerced into participating in. Thus starts York’s lifetime of being strong-armed into things.

The book progressed well for a while, as we watch York find his feet in the adult world. But then, about halfway through, the whole pace and tone of the book changed. Suddenly, where we’d followed the day-to-day minutia of York’s life, whole months and then years passed in mere sentences. “The next year he X, Y and Z,” for example. Until the book ends at one seemingly random point. Yeah, there’d been a little bit of an upswing in action and down-shifting in pace, so we followed one actual event for a while, but no questions were answered. No conclusions come to. The book doesn’t culminate into anything.

I’m curious enough to want to know the mystery of York’s birth and why he was being singled out. But I’m annoyed to have to read more for ANY answers. Come one, throw readers a little bone to keep us reading! The fact that nothing was even addressed (York doesn’t know there is a mystery), let alone answered, left this particular book feeling anchoress and random.

Review of Grid Traveler Trilogy, by J. Carrell Jones

Grid Traveler TrilogyAuthor, J. Carrell Jones sent me a paperback copy of his novel, Grid Traveler Trilogy. I’ve had it for months, but I’ve put off reading it because it doesn’t have any other reviews. I don’t like to be first, in case I don’t like a book and there aren’t any other reviews to balance things out. But I’m so conscious of the fact that it costs authors money to post paper copies that I’m starting to feel guilty now. So, I finally gave in and read it.

Description from Goodreads:
Long ago we were visited by aliens. They shared knowledge and told us stories of life. They showed us magick and made us believe. Then one day they left. We wondered what happened to them. We searched the skies . . . Through the years we performed “magick” hoping they would return. Epochs passed and we went searching for them to discover proof the Elders and Ancient Ones existed. Toward the end of the last war a hero fell from grace. This is the story of Sean Blakemore and his path to redemption. This is where our journey beings. Grid Traveler Trilogy contains the first three Grid Traveler eBooks: Distant Reality, Alien Shores, and Lines Crossed.

This single book contains three ‘acts’ or episodes (Distant Reality, Alien Shores, Lines Crossed). Before I get into the real review let me address the episodic nature of the book. The whole thing is very Star Trek-like—lots of orders to the helm and such—but also, despite being interconnected, each act reads and feels like watching a single, 52 minute episode of one of the television shows. It has a basic beginning, brief middle, quick wrap up and an end. Everything happens quickly. Considering the writer is wearing a Star-Trek (I believe) the New Generation costume in his author bio picture, I can’t imagine these similarities are accidental. I’ll stop short of calling it fan-fiction, but the Johnson does often feel very much like the Enterprise.

For the most part the writing was pretty good. The POVs did frequently shift very abruptly and on occasion it fell into the habit of using names and titles too often. You know what I mean, when every time a person is addressed the sentence starts with the persons name. No one does this in real life and it stands out in written form.

There were also times when it felt naively good-natured and, therefore, unrealistic. When the two tendencies coincided it shattered the readers’ ability to submerge themselves in the story—such as when Sean decided to forgive everyone in Act One, or in Act Two, when Dr. Logger stated, “Sean has told me that his Command staff must not be excluded from any information, members or not. If I hadn’t witnessed how this ship operates under extreme conditions I would have objected to a request like that. But after witnessing first hand, I have no objection to telling you any and everything.” Yea, she’s just gonna give up hundreds of years of secrecy just like that? However, this was the exception rather than the norm. It also happens to be a pet peeve of mine, so I couldn’t not mention it.

On the whole, I thought women tended to come off poorly, as manipulative, prone to freeze under pressure, or just go power mad (occasionally all three). I mention it not only because I found it unfortunate, but also because I think it will affect who the book appeals to. You see, I think the Star-Trek comparison might bring in the male crowd (as would the cover and book description), but the amount of romance/sex will probably appeal to the female crowd. Unfortunately, both will also possibly be put off by the other.

My point is that the sex seemed out of place, in two ways. In the beginning, the romance was very fast. It was too fast to be realistic. Think PNR insta-love. Then later on, by Act Three, Sean had developed a harem, a fickle libido and the sex was gratuitous and disruptive to the plot. Go ahead, imagine Star Trek and then throw in a couple orgy and/or lesbian sex scenes. It kind of looses some of it’s integrity, don’t you think?

It completely didn’t fit the genre and it is therefore unclear who the intended reader is. Is the book intended for romance and erotic readers, who would be predominantly female, or hard science fiction fans, who would be mainly male? Of course there is flex in either direction. Generalities are always dangerous, but you probably get my point. The question is especially important given that there is no indication that this is a romantic or erotic novel in the description.

Despite it’s muddied genre classification, I did enjoy many aspects of the story. A lot of the characters were a lot of fun. Sean was wonderfully loyal and steadfast to his crew and I REALLY enjoyed some of the crew’s quirks. I was especially fond of the constant running pools and the importance of food. Cookie was arguably the most important person on board. The mixing of Wicca and Science was an interesting plot device and, despite leaving enough of an opening for future books, I wasn’t left with a precipitous cliffhanger. Not a bad read.